After “bouncing about everywhere” in the capital looking for a two-bedroom garden flat to buy, website developer Luke Kidney is moving into his first home in north London’s Tufnell Park. Previously renting south of the river in Battersea, he says he and his partner Ivan had a “difficult” year-long search for their first home with a budget of £600,000 — £700,000.
“At first we thought we wanted to be further out — and almost bought in Kingston-upon-Thames — but when life returned to central London [after lockdowns] we changed tack,” says Kidney, who has found Tufnell Park to be “well connected and close to Hampstead Heath. It felt instantly more neighbourly than Battersea.”
Sitting between Parliament Hill Fields and Holloway, the predominantly residential areas of Tufnell Park and neighbouring Dartmouth Park enjoy a low-key profile, although their quiet streets have been home to well-known figures such as actors Bill Nighy and Damien Lewis.
Named after the landowning family that started building it in 1845, Tufnell Park has been parodied for its “shabby-genteel” reputation, but it appeals to buyers who like its diversity, says Giles Elliott of The Buying Solution consultancy. “It’s not for someone who wants somewhere too polished surrounded by £5mn houses.”
The fact that it’s less traffic clogged than nearby Holloway, Archway and Hampstead also counts for a lot, says Emlyn Parks of agent Chestertons. “Buyers prize the fact it’s not as transient [as other inner London areas]. The best properties are still going fast despite the cooling housing market.”
In the year to date, the average property in Tufnell Park (covering parts of N7, N19 and NW5 postcodes) has sold more quickly than the London average of 42 days, according to Hamptons using Land Registry data. The average house sold during that time increased by 7.5 per cent, to £1.65mn, with the highest-ever proportion above £1mn: 26 per cent.
But houses are in short supply: they make up less than a quarter of property sales every year and those in the catchment areas for good state primary schools — Eleanor Palmer, Yerbury and Tufnell Park — sell quickly, although bidding wars have died down. A typical four-bedroom terraced house on Beversbrook Road in the Yerbury conservation area sold this summer for £1.53mn.
Two-bedroom flats in a Victorian conversion cost from around £550,000, but those with a garden are £600,000 — £650,000. The average flat sale in the area in the past year was £576,700, up 1.7 per cent on the previous 12 months.
In the tiny area of Dartmouth Park, the Victorian housing stock is broadly similar but its proximity to Hampstead Heath adds a premium. The philanthropist Charles Booth, who documented late 19th-century London, described Dartmouth Park Road as “the dividing line of middle-class respectability”, with houses to the south then occupied by the working classes.
The most highly sought-after streets are (still) Dartmouth Park Road, Boscastle and Laurier, where a few houses have sold in recent years for around £3.5mn. In Boscastle Road, a five-bedroom house is currently under offer at £3.2mn, after 50 viewings and seven offers for below the asking price of £3.25mn, according to Parks. A couple upsizing from nearby Hampstead are the buyers — from Dartmouth Park the independent schools of Hampstead are within easy reach. Four state secondaries are also nearby, and pretty Waterlow Park.
Although they don’t usually buy houses, the biggest group of renters are French families who send their children to Kentish Town’s Collège Français Bilingue de Londres, according to Charlotte Bas, lettings manager at Marsh & Parsons.
“Working for tech companies, banks or fashion houses, they usually have a budget of around £1,500 a week for a four-bedroom house,” she says, adding that a property in Huddleston Road had four offers on it recently. Bas estimates that a two-bedroom garden flat that cost £525 per week in early 2020 now costs £595-£650.
There’s a French flavour among the businesses of Fortess Road — the area’s equivalent of a high street — with Authentique Epicerie & Bar and Rustique Café. Isaac Cole, who has rented a flat there with his partner Jack since July, loves the independent shops and calmer vibe.
“We were in Kentish Town and with all the student accommodation there, we felt it was a bit too crazy and we didn’t always feel safe at night,” says the solicitor. “I characterise the area to my friends as homely and family-oriented.”
He’s a fan of the Tufnell Park Tavern, but it was another popular local pub, the Dartmouth Arms, that was saved from property developers by locals in 2017. It’s changed ownership again since and Fredrik Brolin, its Swedish chef, says: “We didn’t want to create a gastropub, but somewhere people from the council estate [Hilldrop] would sit next to the owners of the £2.5mn houses.”
Luke Kidney says the area’s friendly community was a big pull: “We haven’t even moved in yet but have met the neighbours and got a WhatsApp group. The people of Tufnell Park just look happier than those in Battersea.”
Tufnell Park has its own Underground station on the Northern Line.
Tufnell Park is split between the London boroughs of Camden and Islington, with council tax Band D for 2022/23 £1,792 and £1,710 respectively.
In 2022, 77 per cent of sales were flats, according to Hamptons/Land Registry.